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Kvell or Kvetch? Celebrate or Complain?

Kvell or Kvetch? Celebrate or Complain? That’s the choice we each can make. Thus Torah teaches: I place before you Blessing and Curse… At Or Ami, we choose to count our blessings and kvell (celebrating or sharing our joy). Here are three things we kvell about this week:

Kvell #1: Mitzvah Day. On Sunday, November 2, we helped strangers, foster kids we will never meet. We created 400 comfort bags to ensure that when these children are pulled from neglectful or abusive homes, they have their own toothbrush and t-shirt, a journal to write in, a book to read, and a teddy bear to cuddle. Our sanctuary became a sacred assembly line. Earlier that morning, Mishpacha Family Learning participants explored the nuances of the 36 times Torah teaches us to care for the stranger (more times than the commandments to observe Shabbat or keep kosher). Why kvell? Because the lessons of Torah infuse our community and goad us to transform the world with compassion and justice. We thank all who participated and donated the items, and especially Laurie Tragen-Boykoff and Shari Gillis for organizing Mitzvah Day. (As a member of a caring community, you might email them directly – copy me – to kvell and thank them.) Check out the pictures here.

Kvell #2: Honoring our Volunteers. Recently Or Ami was received the national Fain Social Action award for our work with Foster Care Outreach. Besides being our second Fain award in just six years, it trumpets something we all know: that helping others, particularly the most vulnerable children, animates the very soul of our synagogue. We kvell as we honor all those who lead us to such national recognition. Please read the next article and let us know if you can join us on Friday, November 20th as we honor who volunteered and donated to Prom Prep, Mitzvah Day, Childspree, Shoes that Fit, and ACAC program. A caring community recognizes and thanks those who promulgate the values of caring. Please respond so we can kvell about your caring.

Kvell #3: Office Reorganization. Creating an atmosphere of warmth and caring within our congregation is the responsibility of the whole community. In Leviticus, God tells the WHOLE Israelite community, K’doshim t’hiyu (be holy). The whole community, not just the leaders. That’s why we kvell when we recognize how caring are the office staff members at Or Ami. Their compassion and competence allows us to take our office organization to the next level. Beginning this week, Susie Stark will become the Assistant to the Rabbi (and Cantor), focusing on ritual, B’nai Mitzvah, henaynu (caring community), communications, development and our ever-expanding programming. This position will allow Susie, often called the caring face and voice of Or Ami, to assist me in deepening our caring community. Elisabeth Moore, our Financial Manager, will assume the duties of Office Manager, ensuring that our staff, our facility and our procedures exude the same competence and compassion that she has already brought to our financial office. Many of you have already commented (kvelled) at how, under Elisabeth’s gentle touch, the challah (from a new bakery) tastes sweeter, the building seems more organized and the financial questions are answered quickly and with patience. Except for ritual, B’nai Mitzvah, pastoral and other rabbinic issues, you will want to talk first to Elisabeth when you call. Of course, Kathy Haggerty continues to work diligently to ensure your needs are met with a smile. And we say l’hitra-ot (see you soon) to Lori Cole who leaves our synagogue community to focus on home and family (though we fully hope and expect she will be offering a helping hand during busy periods).

Finally, a kvetch (complaint). JKJK (teen code for “Just Kidding”). I have nothing to kvetch about, because I am actively attempting to follow the rabbinic dictum to count 100 blessings each day; I teach that we might start by just counting 18 blessings daily. If I spend to much time kvetching, I might miss opportunities to kvell. So join me in kvelling and counting blessings.

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